Psalm 40

Depression isn’t for “sissies

For sure, depression isn’t for “sissies”. Those that struggle with depression are usually sensitive and intelligent people. But one thing is for sure, depressed people learn courage.

Depressed is an illness

What is interesting about those that suffer from depression is that it’s almost never the “bad”, “mean” or “shallow” person that experiences depression. Almost all who struggle with depression are deep thinkers. They are compassionate and sensitive. Besides,. “mental illness” doesn’t always mean what we think it means.

Depression is an “illness” that involves the  “mind”, therefore it’s a mental illness.  What is the matter with our society that we still don’t understand this?

The stigma lives on

My heart aches for anyone who suffers from depression and/or anxiety. It’s horrible. And I think more people suffer from the disorder than don’t. But there is still such a stigma that many people never talk about it.

Instead, they stand at the edge of a precipice never knowing when they are going to fall into the pit. That feeling of impending doom clouds their very existence and life becomes shrouded with fear and dread. You would almost prefer to fall in the pit rather than stand at the edge worried that any minute you might drop into the dark hole and disappear.

It’s like feeling dead inside but pretending to be alive. The effort of trying to act like everyone else is almost more than you can bear. It’s hard to feel courage.

I get it.

If I thought I was heading there again, honestly, I would be terrified.

For a little while.

“Why for only a little while?” you ask.

When fear strikes, find courage

Because while I have a history of depression, I have a longer history of recovery. I’ve learned a lot from my battles. Mostly, that God will get me through if I cooperate.

Would He get me to the other side anyway? Probably. But it would take a lot longer and if I were rescued every time, I wouldn’t develop the skill set necessary to keep me from succumbing the next time.

Psalm 40/depression isn't for sissies

I’m never one to tell anyone that all one has to do when faced with depression is to trust God and just like a magic Genie, everything will get better. While God can heal instantly and he often does, it’s no guarantee.

Besides, we develop a great deal of resilience when we cooperate with God instead of letting God do all the work.

Always best to cooperate

My understanding of God’s dealings with people throughout Scripture is that cooperating with God is always God’s first choice. It’s kind of like God wants us to have a stake in our own growth. It has been proven time and again that people who have a vested interest in something appreciate it more.  I think God created that same desire in us.

When Moses balked at God’s command to speak to Pharoah because he didn’t think he could (for whatever reason and the jury is out on that reason), God said that Aaron could be his mouthpiece. How much personal growth did Moses give up right then because he lacked courage? I would say, a lot.

So if you are on that precipice, you don’t have to fall in. I have no idea about your faith walk so I can’t offer specific advice. But I can tell you what I do. I do suggest you read my book, “Depression Has a big voice. Make yours bigger!”

Here’s a preliminary list (in no order) without much detail:

  1. I pray and read Scripture.
  2. Exercise. If I’m struggling with a current depressive episode, I might walk longer and/or more than once a day.
  3. I stay distracted. If you are employed, this is easier. If not, just start moving and doing something, anything, and that will spur you on some more. This is very hard when you’re feeling down. Do it anyway.
  4. I should’ve started with this: Make your bed. I’ve been saying this much longer than the recent commencement speech of the same title and the subsequent book.
  5. Talk to someone today with your “voice” not your fingers.
  6. Avoid negative people.
  7. Don’t go to bed tonight without having accomplished something. (See # 3)
  8. Keep up with your personal grooming. You should look in the mirror and feel somewhat better by the image you see.

That was a very cursory list.

It’s hard for me to write about depression when I’m not actively experiencing an episode. But it’s also hard if I am.

Anyway, God bless and have a good day.

(PS. You can always check out my menu under the heading “depression”.  I have lots of material there that you might find helpful.)